Heart & Song: Remembering Whitney Houston

Artwork by Derrick Trotman

I want to start this post on a personal reflection. Whitney Houston has meant an enormous deal to me since I was born into a world of her power ballads and energetic dance songs. What Whitney did then, that singers don’t do today– besides perfecting her craft instead of leaning on autotune — is TEACH, PREACH and make the world a better place. She wasn’t known for her ability to wow crowds with stage sets or over-the-top costumes, but for an insightful honesty of the human spirit- an intrinsic emotive value that is timeless as the dawn, and the source from which she captivated the globe’s attention. That is the only way Whitney should be remembered, despite the Hollywood craze to exploit her history of partying and the uncertainty that it played a hand in her passing. With a life like hers, having inspired so many millions of people around the world, I would like to remember Whitney for her best. I would like to respect her as the teacher who helped others to believe in the power of love, the power of confidence, honesty, and bravery in even the weakest of listeners. She was a type of Joan of Arc of our age, for that alchemistic power. Her music made her seem almost superhuman, though domestic low-points and legal troubles exposed the star as uncontestably mortal. Nonetheless, Whitney is and always shall remain an icon, and the young people today need to know why she is so important to us. It was not only her beauty, the fact that the woman preferred true class over flash, and it was not only her incredibly strong, clear, and effortless voice which brought life to each lyric. Whitney was a respectable, intelligent, articulate, and god-graciously talented humanitarian. Whitney lived with a full heart, sharing songs which empowered the listeners. As I was just a child when she ruled the charts, I learned to revere artistry for its merits in human change and the ability to uplift the weak to see they are strong. Her conviction became my own, and for that I am honored to have grown up with a guiding light. I often worry about the children today, that if, as Whitney warned they “are the future” and we must heed what messages they take in as young people, messages which ultimately influence their values as they grow up. While the early 90’s R&B provided my young ears with lessons about safe sex, abolishing prejudice, empowering females, today’s mainstream music lacks not only the character of fully developed and aware adults, but those lessons which they could share to guide the children to be better people, to hold onto faith in their goodness, and to have the courage to act with heart, like a lion. Whitney helped my generation grow as individuals. When no other influence seemed to care, Whitney’s wooing could restore the most broken esteem. I can only hope that someday, an artist as well rounded as Whitney can emerge to uplift us all through heart and song.
—-The Report—–
Whitney reportedly passed away by nodding out while taking a bath, and slipping under the water. Her 18 year old daughter of father Bobby Brown was sharing a room with her mother and was reprimanded by police who kept her from entering the room. She was immensely distraught, and brought into the hospital this morning after a major breakdown. To make matters more tragic, Bobby Brown has lost both his mother and father in the past year. No doubt Whitney’s surviving loved ones are in a great amount of mourning and being tested greatly.

———————- Life Events & Important Figures—————-
Born to singer Cissy Houston, Whitney was inspired by her mother’s performances and decided to follow in her footsteps. Below is Cissy Houston in 1970 singing the Rondettes’ “Be My Baby”.

Cissy Houston was close with Aretha Franklin, who became Whitney’s godmother. Aretha and Whitney teamed up in 1989 for “IT Isn’t, It Wasn’t, It Ain’t Ever Gonna Be”

Whitney is not only an inspiration but has been a mentor of another notable singer, Brandy, who released her debut album at the age of 16 in 1994, Whitney also extended her grace to Brandy’s contemporary, Monica. The three ladies were reported to be together the day of Whitney’s passing, as Brandy and Monica prepared for a pre-grammy party thrown by Whitney’s mentor, Clive Davis.

Below, the pair duet for “It’s Possible”, from the movie Cinderella which stars Brandy as the antagonist, and Whitney as her fairy godmother.

Whitney said “Brandy is a sweet and innocent child, who really just needs encouragement to get to the next step”. Whitney made this sentiment innoculous with her hit “The Greatest Love of All”.

In 1998, Whitney performed the song live for Nelson Mandela’s 70th birthday concert.

While Whitney struggled in her private life, media tabloids exploited rumors of domestic abuse, drug use, anorexia, and erractic behavior. Eventually Whitney confronted these torments in an expose with Diane Sawyer.

Last night FMN spoke with Kofi Burbridge of the Tedeschi Trucks Band, who are nominated for a grammy this year. Kofi was shocked and saddened to hear of Whitney’s passing and recalled touring with her in 1990-1991 for five months with the group After Seven, whom reflect the emotional R&B flavor Whitney epitomized at the time.

Many do not know that country star Dolly Parton penned “I Will Always Love You”, which is widely credited as the best love song of all time thanks to Whitney’s version of it. Some thought Dolly must have been jealous that so many believe Whitney wrote it, but Dolly jokes that “As long as they keep sending the money,” the fans can believe whatever they want. For while Dolly could unveil her pure sentiment so eloquently in lyrics, Whitney executed that song to vocal and emotional perfection, making the song a crossover hit and arguable the most popular ballad in the world. Says Parton to Billboard magazine on the death of Whitney, “Mine is only one of the millions of hearts broken over the death of Whitney Houston. I will always be grateful and in awe of the wonderful performance she did on my song and I can truly say from the bottom of my heart, ‘Whitney, I will always love you. You will be missed.'”

3 thoughts on “Heart & Song: Remembering Whitney Houston

  1. Thanks for the great presentation on Whitney. Thanks to music we can live with our music heroes for a long time. Remember your brother winning a couple of tickets to the NY Mets gain for his karaoke singing as a 10 year old of the “greatest love of all.”

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